Does Nintendo really need to release Mother 3 in the West?

Photo: Nintendo Life / Gavin Lane

The fact that Mother 3 was never officially located and released outside of Japan has been a source of sadness and frustration to EarthBound fans in the West since the game’s release on Game Boy Advance in 2006. The sequel to the iconic classic EarthBound – SNES entry in Mother Series, which sold poorly in the US and didn’t see the light of day in Europe until the release of the Wii U and 3DS Virtual Console – was very late on the GBA. However, backward compatibility meant that Japanese gamers entering the heyday of the WiiDS didn’t have to dig out their old handheld to enjoy the final chapter of the writer Shigesatao Itoi’s trilogy.

Fervent fans have been clamoring for Mother 3’s official Western debut for over a decade and a half, but despite backstage talks, there’s no sign of it yet. We got EarthBound Beginnings on the Wii U (previously unpublished location of the first entry only on Famicom) and recently heard from Reggie Fils-Aimé that there was “serious talk” about the potential release of this portable three. It just so happens that the game’s producer Shinichi Kameoka has recently speculated that a translation of Itoi’s unique writing style could be a moot point for the official west release.

We’re not sure if we’ll buy it, though – it seems much more likely that despite its very loud fan base, Nintendo isn’t convinced the game will find an audience large enough to justify investing in this “challenging” localization work. As for Itoi’s style and unique charm, it has been beautifully captured in EarthBound’s location, so there’s no reason to believe that the same can’t be achieved again.

Same thing, in fact already has was achieved in a brilliant fan translation that was only updated last year. Which brings us to the question: is there any real? need for Nintendo to release Mother 3 now?

Don’t get us wrong, we’d be ahead of the line to download the Limited Edition “3arthBound” style Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon & Blade of Light bundle or a surprise standalone digital version down EarthBound Beginnings, the GBA update added to the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack. Definitely I love play the official version of this awesome Nintendo Final.

However, the fact is, most of us who want to play it have already played it. Despite never being released in the West, Mother 3 currently sits head to head with Metroid: Zero Mission at the top of our Best Game Boy Advance Games readers’ list. Fans of the series and curious gamers have already purchased the original Japanese game, already downloaded the fans’ translation, and played it. A cursory internet search reveals that various reproduction carts are very readily available, not to mention countless other ways a determined fan can find a GBA title game on genuine hardware – also using perfectly legal methods, assuming you own original ROM in legal Form.

One of the reasons we still want an official release is so that the new generation can easily access the game and discover the series, perhaps for the first time. It’s such a moving journey that we’d like to see as many audiences as possible get the chance to play Switch. With over 100 million consoles, if only a small percentage take part in this bizarre little adventure, it could sell out faster than the original EarthBound, which sold around 658,000 worldwide. We really just want to spread the love of a loving Mother.

Despite the fact that it is only played by a relatively small number of players, the series arouses as much love as you will see if you watch our “Mother’s Day” celebratory video with the testimony of a few familiar faces. We recently saw remake-style tributes to Link’s Awakening that suggest what a reworked Mother 3 could look like. The passion for the game and the series is impressive, but most pragmatic fans will not only understand from a business point of view Nintendo’s reluctance to release an official location, but already will find a way to experience the game for yourself.

Which keeps Nintendo and Mother 3 fans stuck between the hammer and the anvil. It’s a pose!

What do you think about it? Let us know in the polls below where you stand on Nintendo when releasing Mother 3 in 2022, and share your further thoughts in the comments.

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